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Making social protection gender sensitive in Sub-Saharan Africa

Through the Gender Resource Facility, KIT was commissioned by the Dutch Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development Policies (INCLUDE) to develop a paper summarising how applying a gender lens to social protection can promote more inclusive development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

INCLUDE: what is it about?

It aims to facilitate a better understanding of how to make growth and development in Africa more inclusive. It focuses on the following three sub-themes: promoting productive employment; identifying and supporting strategic actors for inclusive development and social protection

Until now, few state social protection programmes address the root causes of gender inequality at different stages of women’s lives (e.g. limited intra-household decision making and bargaining power, time poverty due to unpaid work responsibilities and family care, and limited voice within communities, all of which prevent women from claiming their rights and entitlements).

At worst, some social protection schemes are gender unaware and can result in harm (e.g. exacerbate domestic violence), or only support women in the status quo without challenging power relations that maintain their inequality in the first place.

Gender transformative approach to social protection

The paper presents practical guidance for policy makers and practitioners with illustrative examples from Sub Saharan Africa for how to apply a gender lens to social protection. These include case studies from: Ghana’s Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme. It focuses on understanding how women and men’s socially-constituted roles influence their exposure to different risks, their ability to respond to them and, consequently, how they benefit (or not) from social protection across. It makes the case for a gender transformative approach to social protection to tackle the structures of inequality that influence the different risks and opportunities experienced by women and men at different points in their life cycle.

The assignment supported the secretariat of the Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development to profile gender in their work during interactions with African and Dutch policy makers. For this assignment, KIT provided a working paper on applying a gender lens to social protection in pathways towards inclusive development. The paper was used to inform ongoing research commissioned by the Dutch government on social protection and productive employment. Key insights from the paper were used as input into the Africa Day (2016) in response to the published policy letter on ‘inclusiveness’ by former Minister Ploumen.

Key outcomes

KIT produced a knowledge paper on making social protection gender sensitive for social inclusion in Sub Saharan Africa :

The paper was subsequently re-circulated in the newsletter for the International Council for Social Welfare:

Website entries:

Reaction to question of the week:

Presentation at Africa Day:

Services delivered

  • Policy & Programme Design

    KIT Royal Tropical Institute operates at the intersection of theory and practice and between policy and implementation, translating good intentions into meaningful social and economic impact.

  • Applied Research & Knowledge Management

    As a knowledge institute KIT Royal Tropical Institute compiles, analyses and develops new knowledge about health systems, sustainable economic development and gender, and supports others in using this knowledge for sustainable change.

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